(Image of IPL before and after procedure provided by Capital Region Vein and Laser Centre)
It may surprise you to learn that it’s not time but rather the sun that is our skin’s greatest enemy. The sun’s rays are responsible for more than 80% of the aging of our skin.
There are two types of damaging wavelengths that come from the sun: ultraviolet B rays (UVB) and ultraviolet A rays (UVA). The UVB rays cause superficial and immediate reactions in our skin. They irritate melanocytes, the pigment producing cells causing them to multiply. When they are mildly irritated, they produce a brown pigment and cause a tan.
UVA rays have a longer wavelength, which allows them to penetrate even deeper than UVB rays. UVA rays radiate down on us all day, every day, whenever natural light strikes our skin, through window glass, clouds, smog, and some sunscreens. UVA rays are the rays used in tanning salons.
Both forms of UV radiation stimulate production of free radicals in the skin which triggers a breakdown in collagen. This damaged collagen loses its form and causes tiny amounts of scar tissue to build up; over time this process causes wrinkles.
In addition UV radiation also impairs the production of new collagen, therefore reducing the skin’s elasticity. It’s this ongoing collagen injury that is the cause of our skin’s aging.
Skin changes typical of photo aging:
- Uneven pigmentation
- Coarse and leathery skin
- Deep wrinkles
- Age spots
- Dilated blood vessels: spider veins
- Keratoses (raised, rough, red, brown or black spots)
Basic Steps to prevent Photo Aging
When it comes to maintaining youthful skin, there is no such thing as a safe tan. Even the slightest change in pigment is accompanied by skin cell injury. To prevent damage, at any age, you can and should protect yourself from sun exposure and tanning beds.
Always use a good sun block with both UVA and UVB protection, applying it particularly over all exposed areas. In order to be protected against UVA rays the sunscreen must contain in its ingredients either ZINC OXIDE or TITANIUM DIOXIDE.
In addition, limit exposure and stay out of the sun from 10 AM to 3 PM. Cover up when you are outside. Finally, you’ll need a hat as wide-brimmed as possible as well as sunglasses to protect your eyes.